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The biggest risk?

By the numbers, the top cause of death in the US for 15-24 year olds is traffic accidents. It's the second highest cause of death for 25-34, and the fifth highest for 35-44 and 0-14. (

So I wonder, could it be that the biggest risk in day-to-day life is riding in cars that are *not* made by Tesla?

I bought the Model S simply for the tech and the fun of driving it, and then found so many unexpected joys. I wasn't feeling spiritually lost or looking to join a movement, but out of left field I've been converted with bedrock conviction in the mission and what Tesla represents to the world. Who knew that could happen before they became an owner? And so just when I thought I had punched every hole possible to qualify me as a card carrying member of the cult of Tesla, this thought happened...

My oldest son had his birthday, and is less than a year from a learner's permit. When I thought of what car I would be ok with him driving and learning on, only the MS popped in to my mind. Of course, it'd have to be in Valet Mode or something even more extreme than that (maybe a P85- ?), but the idea of my child being in anything other than a Tesla feels like negligent parenting.

I've been planning to add an MX to the family, but even in the interim during that wait it feels derelict to not have them protected at this level. Safety wasn't even a conscious criterion when I bought my MS; now it seems unthinkable to relinquish it.

At some point, we'll know the marginal safety of the MS versus other new cars with a high degree of accuracy, not just versus the average car on the road in standard national statistics with a comparison to the relatively small number of accidents involving a Tesla. But it could be that putting your family in a Model S is the number one preventative measure you can take to ensure their safety.

And so what is cooking my noodle now is that, if a family member were permanently injured in a car wreck, would I feel guilty because I didn't protect them if I could have put them in a Tesla?

While I appreciate your point of view and love of the Model S, your statements that "my child being in anything other than a Tesla feels like negligent parenting" and "if a family member were permanently injured in a car wreck, would I feel guilty because I didn't protect them if I could have put them in a Tesla" might be insulting to many parents. You are basically saying that parents who put their child in a Toyota, GM, Ford, Mercedes, BMW, Audi, or non-Tesla brand of vehicle - which, by the way, parents have been doing for generations - are guilty of negligence and putting their children and passengers in harm's way? I'm sorry to be so blunt, but I find that to be a ludicrous point of view.

I'm happy that you are able to provide each of your children with a Model S in addition to yourself and your spouse. But you are going out of your way to negatively judge other parents who do the best that they can by providing their children with whatever is within their means. My first car was a Chevy Cavalier station wagon. It wasn't the safest car on the road, but it was a car that I was thrilled to be able to drive as a teenager. My parents were wonderful parents, not negligent in the slightest, and they did what they could for me and gave me a car instead of making me get a job to buy my own.

Can we stick to discussing the car and stay away from parenting discussions and saying silly things like any parent who doesn't put their kids in a Model S is negligent? Honestly!

You could buy your kid my 2013 Volvo, its one of the safest cars ever, then I could buy a Model S!

AmpedRealtor - the OP was sharing only his own thoughts not putting judgement on others.
I have very similar thoughts... and working on it to get my wife her own MS.

It's one reason people buy/bought Hummers, large SUVs, CUVs over regular sedan cars over the last decades. Larger makes people feel safer and perhaps are in some accidents. Nothing saves lives more than alert driving, zero distractions, living in an area of high visability roads and courteous drivers. Many cars have five-star crash ratings and good rollover protection.

AmpedRealtor - Fair point, but I don't think Matt intended to judge others, only himself.

To distill it, if you have the option of putting your kids in this car, any other choice increases their risk.

And particularly for teens, (as I have now), it is their single highest risk of death. Shielding them in a Tesla is something you can choose right now that might make all the difference.

That's why I bought two, and that's all they ride in.

Matt - I was having the exact same thoughts, and my little girl is still 15 years away from driving. We do our best to instill good judgement and skills, and then the only other factor we can control is what kind of car to put them into. A great post from earlier today reminded me that being a great defensive driver reduces but does not eliminate the risk from accidents; once the impact happens you are completely reliant on the inherent safety of your car. I do put credence into the "greater than 5 star crash rating" hoopla that Tesla played up, and just like testing students, one A-student is not necessarily as good as another A-student.

I am definitely getting whatever Tesla is around in 2029 (yikes!). I also hope they have some form of absolute speed limiter/valet program by then. Still trying to convince my wife to give up her SUV for a model X :)

But won't that encourage them to play bumper cars with everything else on the road?

Certainly not intended to offend, and most definitely not judging other folks. Thanks to the commenters who helped clarify my intent.

Over time, we will see how this plays out in each type of traffic accident that involves a Tesla. This safety trend could be so powerful that when people say why they bought a Tesla, overwhelmingly it is not the performance, technology, environmental benefits, looks of the car, or cost savings -- the answer will be "The other stuff is great, but I wanted my family to *actually* be safe."

Another way of saying this idea is that the Tesla design, with the lack of an ICE engine, may be itself an advance in safety so significant that it propels the company and transforms the industry more than any other factor. After the Tesla fire, that idea couldn't be further from the public's mind, but there may indeed be a point where letting your kids ride in an ICE car is like letting them go mountain biking without a helmet. Of course, in New Orleans we don't have mountains or even hills, so I don't really know what it's like to let your kids go mountain biking one way or another.

In any case, my son doesn't really care to drive, and I have no current plans to give him a car of his own, of any sort. Many people think of their MS's as a Porsche/Maserati/Etc replacement. Performance aside, letting your son learn to drive on such a vehicle would be out of the question because of the expense of the car. Funny enough, for me if he's going to wreck a car learning to drive, I would rather my child wreck my MS than any other car. It's insured. If the car had the performance stepped down to normal car levels when he would be driving it, the notion even feels like responsible parenting!

Hopefully the price premium for all of the benefits we enjoy goes away as soon as possible and is within everyone's means!

All I could think about while reading the OP's words were other parents reading the same thing and feeling like they are somehow not doing the best for their families because they can't afford a $100,000 car for their kids. I understand that the author was not overtly judging others, but there is an indirect judgment that goes with making statements like that. If the OP feels that putting his kids in anything less than a Model S is parental negligence, then my assumption is that he or she must view other parents in the same way. Parenting is parenting, right?

Feeling like you're a negligent parent because you don't put your kids in a $100,000 car is a new one. My opinion is obviously in the minority here, so I'll bow out of making further comments. I felt that I needed to clarify my original response.

He had the choice. To choose ICE safety levels given the option to go MS felt negligent to him. Not all the "unfairness" arguments in the world can or should influence that.

While the crash ratings are helpful, I don't think the differences between modern cars are significant. Most cars today are very safe, far, far safer than cars 10-15 years ago.
Still, in a head on collision between my Model S and my 93 Chevy 44 pickup, considering the pickup's bumper is at windshield level of the S, I think I would take the pickup!

Amped - your point is well taken, and I know Matt did not intend to offend or belittle anyone. Unfortunately, bad things can happen, and ultimately there is only so much we can do to protect our loved ones. It comes down to the sad fact that the more money we have, the more means are at our disposal to add layers of protection, but we are just buying percentage points shaved off of risk.

A very poor family may not be able to afford a car with antilock brakes or even worse might have to walk in a bad neighborhood at night, whereas a billionaire can send their kids out every day with armed security guards in a limo-tank. It's all a matter of perspective.

In the end, NONE of these safety features were available when we were growing up. Heck, I have a picture of my mom happily cradling me in her arms, no seatbelt, no babyseat, no airbags on the drive back from the hospital after I was born. I was dropped on my head (accidentally, of coruse), managed to eat a metal lugnut, and had a habit of finding cool black spiders with red things on their chest in the backyard to keep as pets. So... yeah, no guilt necessary. Besides, the Model E is coming out in a couple years, priced like an Accord! Protection for all ;)

Brian - now why'd you have to go and distill my three paragraph rant into one sentence (/sarc! ;)

I'm not in the age groups you mentioned. I'm only interested to know if driving a Tesla can reduce the chance of getting heart attach or prevent cancer to occure.

One thing that ought to be considered too is, the safety of the Tesla is legendary (and rightly so) but another factor in most young adult accidents is excessive speed. Providing your teenage son or daughter with one of the fastest cars on the road today has to have a negative effect that does much to cancel out the safety of the vehicle.

Such as it is, I now hear about the Tesla fire twice as much as other comments about the car. I'm significantly more worried about people perceiving Tesla is a danger to their family, than that Tesla owners think poorly of others for not buying in. Each to their own in hopes for our community, but the response that moves people the most when they make the fire comment is that I wouldn't want my children in any other type of car, ever, if that were possible. In this thread, I'm trying to explore that feeling a bit further and what it could mean.

Two years ago my niece suffered a grievous injury for which I would trade my entire financial net worth to undo, this very second, if only such a thing were possible. It doesn't really matter how many or how few zeroes are in that number. That happened to be a rare accident, and not the #1 threat to a teenager's life. Irrespective of cost, Tesla appears to be the only company selling a product that can prevent injuries of that magnitude.

I think in fairness, the only judgment I'm making is that parents who can reasonably protect their children from real risk, but choose not to, may be negligent. That sentiment is about as old as time. And if Tesla cars can truly provide a radically new level of safety, whether at Gen III price levels or perhaps lower, there is a time when if I can afford it, I will definitely provide that safety for everyone in my family.


I got unusual advice once. I have three kids that at one point were all under 4 years old. Occasionally, I'd take them out on my own to coffee shops for breakfast. I got a constant stream of concerned pitying looks from women who beheld me running around to get kid chairs, and food, and drinks, and everything else to make sure it all didn't fall apart. They would make various comments, sometimes sympathetic, but not always.

One time, a woman said: "I had kids just like you. And boy, I thought that was hard. But it's even worse when they are teenagers!" Having just finished scrambling around, I was a bit taken aback. I bit my tongue, and then said: "Do you have any advice for me?"

She said -- "Yes. When they get older, don't ever let them drive a minivan or SUV. Whichever kid in their group of friends has the biggest car ends up driving all of the other kids, and they pile in until it's so full they can't all wear seat belts and its a total mess." And then she walked off.

If my kids have to drive, a two seater, economy car like a Tesla version of a Smart car, complete with GPS reporting on speed limits, a camera to make sure they don't text while driving, and a breathalyzer is what I have in mind! Elon?!?!

Have you lost your acquired immunity to bw bites yet?

I think most parents who buy cars for their kids have so many things to worry about, safety is just one of them. My kids had to drive a minivan (which we till own!) and a Toyota Echo, definitely not the safest car now that I think about it, and I admit I was mostly concerned about how much money I spent on a car, and that I did not want a car with a lot of horsepower so they didn't get to drive too fast. An underpowered car made them drive more timidly I think, and maybe more carefully? That said, my son who drove the Echo was in two accidents in the first year which was not his fault, and nobody was injured either. So we were lucky. If Model S was around then, I don't think I would have bought it for my kids either even if I could afford to, and I am not sure I would let them borrow my Model S either, hmm. But if the Gen III car was available, that would be an option, but probably still on the more expensive side as a first car for a teenager.

I insisted on teaching my kids to drive a manual transmission car, which the Echo we bought was. Just a handy skill to have, like when you have to rent a car in Europe. And going to a performance driving school is a good investment too. Then just educate kids with good common sense to drive safely as best as you can.

Is this topic just as bad as politics and religion, or which editor you use on your computer (back in the day when it mattered)?


IIRC, trucks didn't have to meet US safety standards until 2000..


I think that it is important for a kid to learn how to drive both an ICE and a BEV, just like kids used to need learn to drive both a manual and automatic transmission. Your kid might have to rent a car someday. After driving a Tesla that is so easy, an ICE can be overwhelming.


Reduce cancer risk? Think of all those gas fumes while pumping gas. Think about ICE exhaust and then consider the resulting smog. That is a big benefit for all.

Matt get your kid a 1997 Volvo 850 sedan or wagon, they are slow and safe. Then when they are older get them something nicer when they deserve it.

I heartily agree that my child does not deserve a Model S. His lifetime earnings for work are like $1k. Maybe he'll do something to earn a car at some point! One can only hope.

At the moment, he was suggesting that he would avoid driving and wait for driverless cars. Perhaps I am going to lose this battle. "Son, you *will* drive. I'm not shuttling you around anymore!"

I like the Volvo suggestion. My wife and I are both of the manual transmission school of thought, and it's only in the last few years I gave up on trying to get a stick shift. There are only so many of those left on the US market, which is kinda sad. More power, more fun, more fuel efficient, cheaper... hard to believe they are so unpopular.

I have only driven an automatic ICE after getting the MS. Is it as jarring to drive a stick? One of the reasons I like the MS single pedal driving is because it acts like a manual transmission.

Matt - it's amazing how things have changed. I couldn't wait to get my driver's license to take my slow, sputtering (Olympic edition!) 1984 Buick Century out for burger runs, and now our kids are trying to hold out for driver-less cars :)

Brian - no, but I have developed an immunity to iocaine powder.

@NoMo. Inconceivable

(Someone was going to say it)

Couple folks beat me too it, but Risk is Probability times Impact. While the inside of the Tesla may be safe (low risk), the chances of a male teen getting into a wreck is very high (high probability). Boys crash cars. It's what they do.

While we're not aware of any fatalities for Tesla drivers and passengers, there have been fatalities for occupants of other vehicles that have been in collisions with a Tesla. Faster cars crash a higher speeds.

I would recommend an old, underpowered Volvo. Learning how to take care of a crappy car is part of developing a sense of value for things. I would also recommend NOT repairing it for him after the inevitable dents and dings. That's something he can start paying for. Works wonders....


Girls wreck cars too. I pulled off a doozy.

A tire caught a soft shoulder on a corner at about 50mph, the car nosed into a deep ditch and it did a double roll-over. Thank goodness it was a Vista Cruiser. All I got was a broken nose from my quadraphonic 8-track boom box smacking me in the face. I learned a lot about centrifical force that day. I stayed in my seat the whole ride. That accident is what made me decide that I was going sans-pano. When I rolled, it was over two huge tree stumps. One hit squarely on the roof and was around close to 4 feet across.

That's when my Dad let me buy my own car. He still mourns the loss of the Vista Cruiser.

jtodtman - (thanks for not leaving me hanging!)

jbunn - Speed is definitely a concern, especially with the massive weight of the model S. I was really hoping for a parental control speed and acceleration limiter on the car, say 70 mph and a nice, prolonged 8 sec 0-60 time.

captain zap - my apologies, for some reason I made the a$$inine assumption that you were male and have referred to you as such before. "My bad", as the kids say!

@ captin_zap

Yes they do.

Most dangerous part of any car is the nut behind the wheel.

Tesla Model S does not roll, unless going off a cliff, I suppose!

@matt.wis: The vast majority of accidents occur because someone did something stupid behind the wheel. For kids these days it's virtually always an attention problem.

If you're serious about keeping your children safe when they're driving, the best thing to do is give them the training they need to not be in accidents in the first place. I'd recommend the various defensive driving course offered by the likes of Bondurant, et al.

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